10% of American Seniors Have Dementia

New study found Black and Hispanic people were at higher risk for cognitive decline
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2022 2:31 AM CDT
Updated Oct 25, 2022 5:43 AM CDT
In US, 10% of Those Over Age 65 Have Dementia
Stock photo   (Getty Images / PIKSEL)

The first nationally representative study of the prevalence of cognitive decline in the US that has been carried out in more than two decades found that 10% of Americans over the age of 65 have dementia and another 22% have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The study, published in JAMA Neurology, specifically aimed to find out how prevalent cognitive issues were by age, education, ethnicity, gender, and race, and it found that Black people were more likely to have dementia (their rates were 15% for dementia and 22% for MCI), CNN reports. Hispanic people were found to be more likely to suffer from MCI (28%, and their rate for dementia was 10%), and both conditions were more common in people with less than a high school level of education (13% for dementia, 30% for MCI).

"Dementia research in general has largely focused on college-educated people who are racialized as white," the lead study author says in a statement. "This study is representative of the population of older adults and includes groups that have been historically excluded from dementia research but are at higher risk of developing cognitive impairment because of structural racism and income inequality." The randomly selected sample of study participants completed a survey and had neurological testing done between 2016 and 2017. Among white people, 9% were found to have dementia and 21% were found to have MCI. Those same rates were also true of people with college degrees.

The study found that each year of additional education was associated with a diminished risk of dementia, the Hill reports. No significant difference was found in the rates of men versus women with dementia or MCI. The rates did, however, change dramatically with age: 3% of those between 65 and 69 were found to have dementia compared to 35% for those aged 90 or above; a higher risk of both conditions was found with every five-year difference in age. While it is not uncommon for people with MCI to go on to develop dementia, not everyone does, and interventions related to diet, exercise, sleep, and stress can improve MCI. Another recent study estimated that if more isn't done, dementia cases could almost triple by 2050. (More dementia stories.)

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